Art and Culture

The Barbegal Mills: The Largest Concentration of Mechanical Energy in Antiquity

About 12 kilometers north of the city of Arles, in the Provence region of southern France, is the small town of Fontvieille. It is a commune of just 3,500 inhabitants who live from agriculture and tourism, but until the 5th century AD it was also the place where the greatest concentration of mechanical energy was found in the entire ancient world.

At the end of the first century A.D., the most important Roman hydraulic complex was built there, consisting of two aqueducts and 16 mills, today called Barbegal. The two aqueducts joined just north of the complex, where a lock controlled the water supply to the mills, and then continued to supply the city of Arelate (today’s Arles).

The water flowed down the side of a steep hill along which 16 water wheels were arranged in two parallel sets of eight wheel each on both sides of the channel, so that the flow of the first drove the successive water wheels to the base of the hill.

The capacity of these water wheels, which were used to grind flour, is estimated at about 4.5 tons per day, which would have allowed feeding the entire population of Arelate (which at the beginning of the second century AD numbered approximately 12,500 inhabitants).

Model of the Barbegal mill, Musée de l’Arles antique. Photo: Carole Raddato/Flickr

Some researchers believe that they could also have been used to saw wood and cut stone, when they were not grinding wheat, due to similarity in the arrangement of the mills with those found in some Roman mines in Spain and Wales, as well as with the sawmill at Hierapolis (3rd century AD ), where a rack saw was similarly activated.

It is known that the complex remained in use during the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD, and then gradually declined until its complete destruction and abandonment in the 5th century, coinciding with the invasions that put an end to the western empire.

According to the archaeologist Fernand Benoit the complex could have been built by the Gallo-Roman engineer Q. Candidius Benignus (Fifth Candido Benigno), who belonged to the Arelate carpenters corps and whose sarcophagus bears an inscription that says: no one surpassed him in the art of mechanical engineering and in the conduction of water courses .

The aqueduct. Photo: Carole Raddato/Flickr

As for the ownership of the mills, Benoit believes that they probably belonged to the owner of the Roman villa near La Mérindole.

Today there are important masonry remains of the water channels and foundations of several of the mills, in addition to the stepped channel that goes up the hill, which can be visited. At the Fontvieille tourist office there is a reconstruction of one of the water wheels, and at the Arles Museum you can see a reconstruction of the whole.

Remains of the complex. Photo: maarjaara/Wikimedia Commons

This article was originally published in La Brújula Verde. It has been translated from Spanish and republished with permission. KAUSHIK PATOWARY, Source https://www.amusingplanet.com/

Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!

MICHAEL WALSH is a journalist, broadcaster and the author of RISE OF THE SUN WHEELEUROPE ARISE TROTSKY’S WHITE NEGROESMEGACAUST,  DEATH OF A CITYWITNESS TO HISTORY, THE BUSINESS BOOSTERTHE FIFTH COLUMN VOLUME I and IIFOR THOSE WHO CANNOT SPEAKIMMORTAL BELOVEDTHE ALL LIES INVASIONINSPIRE A NATION Volume IINSPIRE A NATION Volume II , SLAUGHTER OF A DYNASTY , REICH AND WRONG,  THE RED BRIGANDSRANSACKING THE REICH ,    SCULPTURES OF THE THIRD RIECH: ARNO BREKER AND REICH SCULPTORS  SCULPTURES OF THE THIRD RIECH:  JOSEF THORAK AND REICH SCULPTORS ,   PORCELAIN OF THE THIRD REICHSupreme Ceramics and Porcelain Lost to War, The Exiled Duke Romanov Who Turned Desert Into Paradise , THE DOVETAILS , SEX FEST AT TIFFANY’S  and other book titles. These illustrated best-selling books are essential for the libraries of informed readers.

MICHAEL WALSH NOVELS

The revenge of a predator is a city-vigilante epic better than Death Wish A LEOPARD IN LIVERPOOL , 55 lavishly illustrated first-hand stories by a Liverpool sailor THE LEAVING OF LIVERPOOL, Latest Killer-Thriller From Michael Walsh the City Vigilante Supremo The Stigma Enigma , A powerful thought-provoking paranormal romance The Soul Meets, How to form a naughty ménage a trois THE DOVETAILS and SEX FEST AT TIFFANY’S.

Latest Michael Walsh bestsellers: Those who fall victim to the taxman, banks and moneylenders are victims of legalised mugging  DEBTOR’S REVENGE, The Business Booster shows you how to double your profits not your workload THE BUSINESS BOOSTER 

MICHAEL WALSH is a journalist, author, and broadcaster. His 70 books include best-selling RHODESIA’S DEATH EUROPE’S FUNERAL, AFRICA’S KILLING FIELDS,  THE LAST GLADIATORS, A Leopard in Liverpool, RISE OF THE SUN WHEELEUROPE ARISE, FOR THOSE WHO CANNOT SPEAK, THE ALL LIES INVASIONINSPIRE A NATION Volume IINSPIRE A NATION Volume II, and many other book titles. These illustrated best-selling books are essential for the libraries of informed readers.

The author’s books available for purchase by visiting his website BOOKSTORE, and POETRY  links.

We are in debt to our donors who finance the distribution of spin-free real news and fearlessly expressed views.

KEEP REAL NEWS OPEN: Donate by using Western Union, MoneyGram, Ria, registered mail or contact Michael Walsh: keyboardcosmetics@gmail.com or euroman_uk@yahoo.co.uk 2) Follow our blog. 3) Share our stories and 4) buy our author-signed books. 5) Receive free newsletters by writing subscribe to euroman_uk@yahoo.co.uk

BOOKS THAT CHALLENGE, INSPIRE, INFORM Michael Walsh, ‘Writer of the Year’ with a strong global following. Nearly 70 interesting Amazon book titles famed for changing and improving lives. CLICK TO VIEW

www.mikewalshwritingservices.wordpress.com

New stories every day!

EUROPE RENAISSANCE

https://europerenaissance.wordpress.com/

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s